Libraries have a long tradition of providing information to all who seek it. The Chalmer Davee Library is no exception to this tradition. The library prides itself on providing all its patrons with current, relevant information for inquiry and research. Currently, however, there is a wealth of scholarly research and information that is lost or hidden from view. This information appears in electronic format, in journals that the library lacks access to, or consists of information that exists only on discs or on the computers of the university's students, staff and faculty. Comprised of a variety of formats and topics from power point presentations at a regional conference to research posters, senior research papers or scholarly articles posted on a department's web page or published by a commercial vendor, this information cannot be gathered in one place to be disseminated to a world wide audience. MINDS@UW-River Falls is designed to fill the void by providing a collective site to gather, preserve and distribute the intellectual output of the university.
Institutional repositories like MINDS@UW-River Falls are just part of the discussion on the changing aspects of scholarly communication today. As journal subscriptions increase in price, libraries around the country are faced with the tough decisions to reduce journal subscriptions. In addition, publishers restrictions on self-archiving, that is posting a copy of an article online in an institutional repository or departmental Web page, reduce the flow of scholarly communication by restricting access to those who can afford to purchase the journals. In essence, this signals a decrease in access to information on which future ideas and research can be built.
So what can be done? Besides placing information in an institutional repository, the Open Access movement provides an alternative to the high costs of traditional publishing. Open access means that information is freely available on the Internet. Some places have even created open access journals in which all articles are made freely available to a world wide audience. Some of the journals even have an editorial process in which the articles are peer-reviewed just like they would be in a traditional print publication. For a list of Open Access journals, check out the Directory of Open Access Journals at: http://www.doaj.org/. Other Institutions, like Harvard's Law School, the Harvard University's Faculty of Arts and Sciences and Stanford University School of Education are moving towards creating their own open access repositories that make their faculty's scholarly articles available worldwide for free.
Moreover, in late 2008, in a report entitled "The University's Role in the Dissemination of Research and Scholarship-A Call to Action," the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), the Association of American Universities (AAU), the Coalition for Networked Information (CNI), and the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges (NASULGC) issued a call to action for universities to ensure the broadest possible access to the products of their work. The report also encouraged universities to promote and expand the growth of institutional repositories like MINDS.
There have also been movements in the US Congress to make information freely available online, such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access Policy and the Federal Research Public Access Act. The NIH Public Access Policy ensures that the public has access to the published results of NIH funded research. It requires scientists to submit final peer-reviewed journal manuscripts that arise from NIH funds to the digital archive PubMed Central upon acceptance for publication. To help advance science and improve human health, the policy requires that these papers are accessible to the public on PubMed Central no later than 12 months after publication.
Additionally, starting in January 2011, all grant applications to the National Science Foundation must append a two-page-maximum “data management plan” for data arising from the research process. What is a data management plan? Basically, a data management plan is a document that describes how data used in a study or project is organized, preserved and shared with a wider audience. For more information about data plans, the University of Wisconsin has an excellent web page describing data plans at http://dataplan.wisc.edu. MINDS@UW-River Falls offers a place to store and preserve your data for your data management plan, so contact us if you are interested.
The future of scholarly communication is uncertain, and the library encourages you to discuss the ideas with your colleagues, fellow staff members and students to address the problems facing scholarly communication today. For more information on open access, scholarly communication and institutional repositories, here are a couple of articles for your review.